Safeguarding adults: Mediation and family group conferences
Family group conferences - The process
Referral and contact
If a social care service considers that an FGC may be appropriate, the referrer should talk to the person (and other interested parties) to make sure that they agree to being referred. The referrer should provide literature to the person to explain what an FGC is and what it involves. SCIE’s At a Glance summary on mediation and family group conferences may be useful. It is important that the person agrees to participate in an FGC voluntarily.
The referrer would then usually approach the FGC service on the person’s behalf, although in some cases, a person can self-refer. The FGC service will arrange to screen the case for suitability and should inform the referrer as soon as possible. If the FGC service considers the case to be unsuitable for an FGC, it should inform the referrer and give reasons why (Mutter et al 2002). Local policies should detail the criteria for referral.
An independent FGC coordinator is appointed who will contact and arrange to visit all significant people identified by the vulnerable person or the referrer. The purpose of this is to gather more information and to continue to assess the suitability of the case for an FGC.
The FGC coordinator should contact potential participants individually, or meet them in person before the FGC meeting, as part of any FGC model with older adults or adults with disabilities. The preparatory phase helps the FGC coordinator to:
- identify the issues, decide whether an FGC is appropriate and if so, whether additional support is necessary
- identify any capacity issues
- identify whether the person agrees to being referred and has given their consent – where they are able to – and to explain all other
- less restrictive options available
- describe what the FGC involves, answer questions and ensure that everyone understands their role and what to expect on the day
- determine what support a person may require in order to engage as fully as possible with the FGC process
- prepare any supporters or advocates for their role
- identify and address any specific cultural issues that might support or undermine the participants’ willingness to take part in the FGC
- continue to determine who should be at the meeting
- identify any expertise required
- screen for domestic abuse and imbalances of power
- identify safety issues by encouraging the potential participants to share safety concerns, and develop a strategy to deal with any concerns (Daybreak 2011).
To ensure that pre-FGC meetings are conducted thoroughly and sensitively, FGC coordinators must have received training on the legal, ethical, social and practice issues raised by FGC with vulnerable adults (Daybreak 2011; Family Rights Group 2011).
See the training and accreditation section in the Information for commissioners resource.
Arranging the FGC
The FGC coordinator will arrange a time and place for the meeting that everyone is happy with. The FGC should take place in a neutral and private setting, free from interruptions and disturbance, and be fully accessible for any participants with disabilities. Normally an FGC will take place on one occasion and typically lasts for several hours. During the preparatory phase, the FGC coordinator will consider how the FGC meeting will be structured, to respond to the needs of the participants. For example, a vulnerable person may have difficulty participating for the whole session.